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Entries in Piano (2)

Thursday
Nov082012

Mozart's Piano Returns Home to Applause

Hemera/Thinkstock(VIENNA, Austria) -- Like a symphony, all the dramatic elements came together.

The piano that Mozart used for the last 10 years of his life and which he used to compose much of his music was returned to his former home in Vienna for a performance of his music.

"A big, positive shock was how good the instrument is," said Russian pianist Alexander Melnikov after the concert Wednesday. "One can't experience something more overwhelming as a pianist than this."

"It was played as Mozart heard it," says Isabelle Hackenberg, a music lover who attended Melnikov's performance. "The concert was electrifying and rhapsodic. Can it ever get better?"

Mozart's piano, used throughout the last decade of his life to compose all of his piano concertos, temporarily returned to composer's former home, on Domgasse, now the Mozarthaus museum, in Vienna for the first time since Mozart's death in 1791.

The instrument is permanently housed in the Mozarteum museum in Salzburg.

The piano spent two weeks in Vienna and was returned to Salzburg Thursday.

The piano was originally made by Anton Walter, who is said to be the most famous Viennese piano maker of Mozart's time. It has two octaves less than a modern piano, and is much lighter and smaller than modern pianos, weighing just 187 pounds (85kg), and is three feet wide and a bit more than seven feet long (one meter by 2.23 meters.)

"Wolfgang Amadeus would carry it around to all concerto venues in Vienna," said Dr. Alfred Stalzer of Vienna Mozarthaus. "He bought it in 1782 and used it till the end of his life."

"As a born pianist," writes Eva Bandura-Skoda, an Austrian musicologist and an expert on the history of fortepiano, "Mozart understandably wanted to own the very best concert grand available. His instrument still remains the best fortepiano of the period, an excellent concert grand, precious not only because Mozart gave his many subscription concerts on it, but also because of its quality."

By the time of his death, at age 35, Mozart produced more than 600 compositions: symphonies, operas, concertos, quartets, cantatas. He is regarded by many as the world's greatest natural musical genius.

Melnikov played two sonatas and two fantasias Mozart wrote on his piano in Vienna, when he was in his thirties.

"These works (K. 475, K397, K457, K332), they bubble over with playful finales, a demonstration of the composer-pianist's invention and wit," Stalzer said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct232012

Child Prodigy Writes Opera at Age 7

Photos.com/Thinkstock(SURREY, England) -- Alma Deutscher is already an accomplished musician; she’s mastered the piano and the violin. Now she can add composing her own opera to the list — and she’s only 7 years old.

Like so many other child prodigies, she plays beautifully. But what sets her apart is her ability to write, and improvise, classical music.

Deutscher can sit at the piano and create music that sounds as if it had been written for her.

“It’s as if she’s speaking to Mozart and Bach and questioning them and then answering in their language,” Robert Gjerdingen, professor of music theory and cognition at Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music, told ABC News. He has been helping the Deutscher family teach Alma in a classic style that encourages her ability to improvise. “Usually prodigies excel in reproducing music, not in creating it. She is the Bobby Fisher of music.”

“When I compose, I’m very happy if I manage to find a beautiful melody,” Alma told the BBC.

The young musician hails from the country town of Surrey, England, and has always showed a passion for the arts.

“It was striking that when she was about three, she heard a lullaby by Straus, by Richard Straus,” says her mother, Janie Deutscher. “And she came to us and said, ‘How can music be so beautiful?’ She was so struck by the beauty of it.”

For her most recent project, Alma composed a seven-minute opera called "The Sweeper of Dreams.”

She woke up one morning with a musical theme in her head and with the help of her father, who is also an amateur musician, she recorded the theme on the piano.

She later fashioned the theme she recorded into a seven-minute “mini-opera” for a competition held by the English National Opera, which praised her work.

The opera features a Dream Sweeper, whose job it is to make you forget your dreams. One day the Dream Sweeper is fired and, after convincing skeptical adults, a 16-year-old girl replaces him. “I was born for this job,” she sings.

Alma felt the story was perfect for her. But she doesn’t have to wait that long to impress adults. She is often compared to another famous prodigy, whom in some respects she actually is ahead of. While Mozart could play and name notes at 3 years old, Alma could do that at 2. And Mozart wrote his first songs at age 5 — Alma began improvising at just 4.

And for the 7-year-old musician, it just comes naturally.

“Normally when I try to think of ideas, it doesn’t come,” she said. But “when I’m improvising, then I have lots of ideas.”

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio